News / USA

Moqtada al-Sadr Tells Followers He Supports New Iraqi Government

Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gestures during his first public appearance since returning from nearly four years of self-imposed exile in Najaf, south of Baghdad, Iraq, 08 Jan 2011
Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gestures during his first public appearance since returning from nearly four years of self-imposed exile in Najaf, south of Baghdad, Iraq, 08 Jan 2011

Anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr addressed his followers in the Iraqi city of Najaf Saturday after returning from a nearly four-year stint studying Shi’ite theology in Iran. 

Thousands of supporters came to cheer their long absent leader after his self-imposed exile in Iran.   

Moqtada al-Sadr left Iraq nearly four years ago when U.S. forces had reached a pinnacle of troop strength and now he was returning to a different Iraq, ready to assert its independence.

Much of Sadr’s rhetoric on Saturday drew applause with many in the crowd being devoted supporters.

Iraq is still occupied, Sadr claims, and his followers must continue to resist the occupiers - U.S. and others - by all possible means. He then urged the crowd to chant ‘down with the occupant.’

At the gathering in the Shi’ite stronghold of Najaf,  Sadr appeared  to have buried his longstanding animosity with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose recently formed government he finally agreed to support. That support, however, is tempered.

He says that the Iraqi government has now been formed and that he is willing to support it if it serves the interests of the people. If not, he threatens vaguely, there are avenues to pursue.

Mr. Maliki, for his part, addressed Moqtada al-Sadr and others, telling a gathering of Iraqi police officers his erstwhile opponents are now in the government and should stop complaining.

He insists that no one should complain that he has been deprived of a place within the government, and so no one should flout the law and create disturbances.

Iraq expert James Denselow of Kings College in London stresses that Moqtada al-Sadr is a "component of Iran’s strategy in Iraq," and that Sadr has "shown himself to be pragmatic enough to abstain from violence," as the U.S. prepares to withdraw by year’s end.

Sadr’s fiery rhetoric, he notes, looks calculated to resemble the lingo of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and his politics appears to center on Hezbollah’s state-within-a-state model.

"The Hezbollah model is shown clearly in his comments," said Denselow. 'He will use the government as far at it is useful for him and his party and he will see the state as a prize to be captured and to be sort of patronized in terms of his supporters through ministries and through finance, but he will not necessarily look to build the central state and Maliki as independent actors to themselves."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Maliki, he argues, has both domestic and regional issues to deal with, trying to keep his fragile coalition together and trying to please both the Arabs and the Iranians. As evidence of the fence he now straddles,  Mr. Maliki hosted Arab League chief Amr Moussa Saturday, asking to host the next Arab summit. The visit came just 48 hours after that of Iran’s new acting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Remain Engaged in Afghan Peace Talks

US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Daniel Feldman recently met with Pakistani and Afghan officials as talks were disrupted by news of Taliban chief Mullah Omar's death More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs